By Jinhoon Lee
Cambodia is one of the fast-developing countries in Asia. However, according to WaterAid.org, 3.8 million people, which includes about 1/4 of Cambodia’s population, are still limited in their access to clean water. Families in rural areas are disproportionately affected, without sufficient water treatment infrastructures. In this circumstance, families are compelled to make the daily purchase of plastic water bottles to provide themselves and their children clean water to drink.
This widespread use of plastic bottles, however, becomes one of the main causes of Cambodia’s plastic pollution. With the lack of waste management infrastructures and educational standards, plastic bags and bottles are simply discarded into the soil after their use, creating mountains of plastic waste. These piles of trash are often concentrated on waterways and drainage canals, contaminating water sources and emitting pungent odors that put nearby residents at risk.
This is why Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Cambodia has joined Global Peace Alliance in countering pollution and providing safer, healthier living conditions through the Safe Water Safe Bottle project. The project supports a number of primary schools by providing environmental education, establishing clean water stations, and handing out reusable aluminum water bottles. Safe Water Safe Bottle is currently partnered with seven schools in Chebar Ampov District, Cambodia.
Primary goals of Safe Water Safe Bottle project:
Provide education (GreenED) to raise awareness of different environmental problems and build civic awareness of the future generations in taking care of their environment.
Establish the water filter system for students to access safe drinking water in their school.
Reduce the use of plastic bottles which is currently increasing the number of plastic wastes in Cambodia.
Reduce household expenses on the purchase of daily drinking water
The first project began in 2017 with Kdey Takoy Primary School, funded by FUJI SUISO, a supplement company in Japan. The project began with GreenED, a GPF environmental education program to raise students’ awareness of different environmental problems. Led by GPF volunteers, sessions included interactive lectures and handwashing sessions, which helped students build healthy daily habits. The installation of a new outdoor water station also took place and 520 reusable aluminum bottles were handed out to students.
In 2018 at Cambodia-Korea Corporation Center, Safe Water Safe Bottles were displayed at the booth during the Korean Cultural Festival, where local supporters purchased the products, spending $5 for personal purchases while many also spent an additional $6 to donate the bottles to students with a meaningful message attached.
This ongoing project contributes to building healthier families and the environment in Cambodia.
We believe that the Safe Water Safe bottles can become a reminder for students of the education and experiences that they had through the project and make a lasting impact on their health and the environment around them.